I was on the phone with a buddy of mine talking about how to attack the Oregon offense and he gave me the idea of this post. The tricky thing about the Oregon offense is not just their athleticism but their misdirection. You have to be patient and keep your assignments. That is the key...
Watch this video and ask yourself what you see or don't see...
The main thing you see in the video is that the defenders follow the fake.
We have seen it time and again...opposing defenses bite too hard on the fake while the QB takes off with the ball gaining significant yardage.
The QB knows he is going to get pounded as the game goes on, especially if he continues to keep the ball. Meanwhile the running back is barely touched, keeping him fairly fresh because he is not fatigued from the constant pounding. He is pretty much sharing reps with the QB.
I don't care how fast you play, if your body gets continually pounded you lose some efficiency. And hitting in practice is never the same as it is in the game.
So beat the crap out of the fake!
Finish the play. Hit James, or whomever the decoy is, no matter what. I am not saying cheap shot him, just finish the play. If you think he has the ball pound him into the ground. James has thin skin, he doesn't like to be hit and because he shares carries with Thomas he isn't going to be hit as hard or as much as a normal running back would who gets most of the carries.
He isn't used to it so turn up the heat.
Continually pounding him will make him think and when players start to think they can lose focus. Take a look at our defense in the first 4-5 games this season. They were thinking way too much, trying work the new scheme instead of just playing.
USC still needs to play solid defense. They need to mind their gaps and keep their assignments and not get fooled by misdirection or at least minimize being fooled. We saw tOSU do it...they let the play come to them, they played disciplined football. They didn't pursue, they held their position and waited for the cutback to come.
We saw the results...the snapped the trap shut.
Think about it, If I'm taking the head off the fake back every time he runs a play at the LOS, how much do you really think he wants to get the ball for real?
It's harder to get free shots at the QB in the spread option, so unless he carries the hand off into a run fake into the LOS, the refs will protect him. However, a back coming through the LOS on a fake is the same as a potential blocker, so hammer him. The defensive player has every right to unload on him during the play. Forearm shiver on the raise from a football position to the chest extenting to the chin works real well on little backs. It isn't a cheap shot it's proper technique.
A couple of those hits and they will get the message...
Another thing is to light the QB up as he pitches it. After a while it takes a toll and no QB, especially Thomas wants to be the focus of the Oregon running game. He won't mind if he isn't getting hit but he will definitely have a problem if he continually hit, so he will hand the ball off to James and if he is already getting hammered then all sorts of doubt will be in both of their heads.
Our guys just have to keep focused. They can't get caught in a read and react situation. By the time you have thought out the plan the opposing RB will already be past you. This is pure assignment football.
Stay focused and stay disciplined!
Oregon preys on an over pursuing defense. They eat up chunks of yards when they get the match-up they want. This is why the defense keeping their assignments is so critical.
Again, let me stress this is not about cheap-shotting opposing players. Hitting the guy is legal. Just finish the play! This is all about playing disciplined football. You can hit guys and hit them hard if you play disciplined and don't look to kill a guy or take their head off. Just make him feel the hits every time he is in the play.